Horseback Riding Lessons for Blog Content Writers

“Like any sport or dedicated hobby, there are bigger life lessons to take away than simply the information or skills necessary to participate,” writes horseback riding fan Sarah Faulkner in Faulkner lists four lessons leaders can take from equestrians, each of which I believe can be valuable to us blog content writing professionals:
Look where you want to go.
As a leader you must have a well-defined vision and be able to clearly communicate it.
One concept I emphasize in corporate blogging training sessions is that focusing on main themes helps blog posts stay smaller and lighter in scale than the more permanent content on the typical corporate website. The posts fit together into an overall business blog marketing strategy through “leitmotifs”, or recurring themes. These themes tie together different product or service descriptions, different statistics, and different opinion pieces., but there should be little doubt of the main direction in which you “want to go”.
Communicate clearly, consistently, and confidently.
Reinforce verbal with physical commands, but do not give mixed messages.
Even while letting readers see your own “humanity”, keep your blog content well-organized and well-written to convey a feeling of being in control. Maintaining a consistent schedule of posting sends a reassuring message to readers.

Sense and respond to cues.
As a leader, you need to sense and respond to market forces such as trends and competition.
As I teach at Say It For You, blog content writers must develop “peripheral vision”, being aware of what competitors are doing and working to stay just one step ahead of them.
Tack up your own mount. 
Be willing to get into the details, keeping informed on the numbers and fundamentals of your business.
Successful blogging for business is all about detail.  Corporate websites provide basic information about a company’s products or a professional’s services, but the business blog content is there to attach a “face” and lend a “voice” to that information by filling in the finer details.  In horse shows, I learned, there are two aspects to winning medals – equitation and pleasure. Equitation refers to the skill and posture of the rider; pleasure refers to the horse’s looks and control.  To succeed in blog marketing, content writers must be willing to get into the details – navigation, search engine optimization, visuals, vocabulary.


Good Grammar Affects the Effect of a Business Blog – Part B

good grammar in blogging


Holly Sutton lists spelling and grammar errors as #4 among the eleven common mistakes bloggers make in their first year, but as a blog content writing trainer, I find, grammar errors are all too common even among experienced bloggers. With social distancing having left many of us content writers with extra time on our hands, I’m devoting this week’s Say it For You posts to spelling and grammar cleanup hints. In the latest post, I reviewed homonyms, or sound-alikes.

Today, let’s focus on common twosomes that are often used interchangeably – but which shouldn’t be:
  • Who always refers to a person; that refers to a thing. I am a person who cares about grammar, because grammar is a thing that helps clarify meaning.

  • Whose jacket is this (to which person does the jacket belong)?  Who’s on cafeteria duty today (who’s means who is)?

  • Given a choice between an orange and an apple, I would always choose the apple. On the other hand, if I had to choose among all possible fruits, I would choose plums. (Use between when there are two objects or people; use among when there are three or more.

  • Lay is a verb that commonly means “to put or set (something) down.” Lie is a verb that commonly means to be in or to assume a horizontal position. Peter liked to lie in bed. Before going to bed each evening, he would lay his robe at the foot of the bed.

  • Advise (the s is pronunced like a z) is a verb (I advise you to clean up the grammar in your blogs). Advice (a noun) is what I am offering to y0u in this blog post.

  • You bring things here and take them there, Jeff Haden explains in

  • You are being discreet when you are careful and show good judgment, Haden adds. Discrete means separate or distinct (just what you want to be in your blog, but in a good way).
For sure – in blogging for business, grammar affects the effect!

In Business Blogs, Dessert May Come First

“When you sit down for a meal, most people don’t expect to eat dessert first.  And when you sit down with a book, you don’t expect to know the ending before you start reading.” So begins the intro to Sherry Deutschmann’s business book Lunch With Lucy.  Nevertheless, Deutschmann, founder and CEO of Letter Logic, Inc. lets us know upfront – and very precisely – what the central theme of her book is going to be.
As blog content writers, our first instinct might, in fact, be to leave “dessert’ for last, offering information using a logical, linear structure. For a variety of reasons, though, that might not be the most effective way to present ideas in every situation.

A blog itself is made up of short, frequently updated posts arranged in reverse chronological order.  Within any one post, topics may be presented sequentially or climactically (building
towards an important conclusion). The traditional structure of a newspaper story follows the model of an upside-down pyramid, with the most important information first and the details filled in later. That inverted pyramid concept may not be right for many blog posts, because readers must be kept hungry for more information in order to keep reading. Ginney Soskey of Hubspot suggests presenting valuable information again and again through the entire article.
Whether readers access the content in the first place, of course, depends on whether they click on the title. There are two basic categories of blog titles, we’ve found at Say It For You. The first simply conveys what content readers should expect to find in the post or article. That type of title is not “cutesy” or particularly engaging, but can be highly effective in business blogging because it’s short and to the point and uses keyword phrases that match up with what a reader may have typed into the search bar. The second category of title arouses readers’ curiosity, but gives only the barest hint of the content to follow. 
With an important purpose of marketing blogs is attracting online readers, blog post titles are a crucial element in the process. Readers need assurance that they will be coming to “the right place” for the information they need.
In blog content writing, at least a little taste of the “dessert” might need to be served straightaway!

Getting Creative With Organizing Principles for Blogs

“A well-chosen organizing principle can serve as a strong differentiator for your story, helping to set it apart from the competition,“ suggests Paula Munier in her book the Writer’s Guide to Beginnings. 

Organizing principles run from beginning to end throughout the story, and can:
  • help add layers of meaning
  • enhance the imagery
  • deepen the story’s themes
If you’re writing from the first-person point of view of the heroine, for example, you should stick to that point of view for the entire story, Munier suggests.  But, using the novel Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple as an example, Munier shows how a resourceful author uses devices to being other voices into the story. Semple incorporates emails and letters received by Bernadette, school notes, signs, police reports, even report cards.  That way, even though the entire novel is in first person, the reader can enjoy other points of view and styles of writing.

In corporate blogging, I stress first person business blog writing because of its one enormous advantage – it shows the people behind the posts, revealing the personality of the business owner, practitioner, or the team standing ready to serve customers. In terms of getting creative, though, curating materials from different sources allows the content to keep its organizing principle intact while offering a broader range of information and adding interest as well.

Different blog posts, of course, serve different purposes. Second person (“you”, “your”) is a good fit for how-to blog posts, while third person (“he”, “she”, “they”) may be a choice for news items.

“The voice of a writer is usually easier to hear in first person,” says William Cane in Write Like the Masters. Why? “Third person narratives so often mimic the ‘beige voice’ of an objective reporter,” Cane explains, whereas “with first person, it’s usually easier to be intimate, unique, and quirky.”

Each blog (not just each blog post) needs an organizing principle, which should be based on a deep understanding of the target audience. Still, by incorporating outside sources, “Other People’s Wisdom”, and even quoting from documents, letters, comments, etc., blog content writers can get creative around that principle.

To stay personal, we Indianapolis blog writers need to show readers we’re talking very specifically to them. At the same time, blogging for business will be at its best when it’s colorful, filled with the company’s special brand of energy and passion, all built around that all-important organizing principle.  

Blog Content Parhelions

parhelions in blogs
Earlier this week, we devoted a Say It For You blog post to a term from the field of psychology (Just Noticeable Difference); today’s post explores a term from meteorology…

You might say a “sun dog”, or parhelion, as it is known in meteorology, is an atmospheric optical illusion. The phenomenon consists of bright spots, or halos, that appear at one or both sides of the sun, when ice crystals in the atmosphere refract sunlight.

While as blog content writers, we’re hardly aiming for illusion, optical or otherwise, the work we do presents a number of important parallels with the parhelion effect:

  1. If you ask the question, most business owners and professional practitioners will tell you they have more than one target audience for their products and services. What can be done with a blog is to offer different kinds of information and advice in different blog posts. Just as the parhelions showcase, rather than obliterate the sun, blogging allows coming at the same topic in different ways, still highlighting the central message.

  2. Just as parhelions showcase, rather than distract from the central figure of the sun, doing so through a visual phenomenon, engaging blog posts need visual elements to enhance and showcase the the information, advice, and “slant” of the written content.
  3. Different consumers are going to process our content in different ways. In order to make clear that this business or professional practice has chosen to carry on in a certain way, but that there were other options, the “parhelion effect” can highlight the business owner’s or professional’s “slant” through contrasting that approach with other views.

  4. The parhelion effect can be achieved in groups of blog posts, not only within one article. Readers are different, with different “rules” and needs. We blog content writers need to keep on telling the story in its infinite variations, knowing that, to a certain extent, the blog content readers who end up as clients and customers action have self-selected.
  5. Sentence length can create a parhelion effect. Writers can weave in short sentences with longer ones. Surrounding one “naked” (extremely short) sentence between two longer ones creates, to create a parhelion-like contrast.

By varying the format, the images, the opinions, the sentence length, images and sentence length, writers can create blog content parhelions!